This is Gaspar Marcos. He’s 18 years old, grew up in Huehuetenango, Guatemala, and was orphaned at age 5. At age 12, he came to the United States after the neighbor who took him in could no longer afford to take care of him. His already dangerous journey to the United States took a nearly fatal turn when he was left to die in the Sonoran Desert, only to then be kidnapped. Eventually, after facing just about every hardship guaranteed to kill someone’s spirit, Marcos made it to Los Angeles.
Gaspar Marcos currently spends his time going to class at Belmont High School, located in the Latino-heavy L.A. neighborhood of Westlake. Going to school is very important for Marcos. “If you don’t have education, nobody will respect you,” he told the Los Angeles Times. “If you don’t educate yourself, you don’t have employment. I want to be a good person and have an education … have a good, stable job. I want to have a home, the sort of home I never had.”
But going to school while learning English and having absolutely no family support isn’t the only thing on Marcos’s plate. He also works long hours as a dishwasher for a restaurant in Westwood, an affluent neighborhood that is also home to UCLA. He needs the job because he lives alone, renting a room in a family’s house for $600 a month.
The 18-year-old knows it’s tough, but he doesn’t let the awful hand he’s been dealt stop him. “At first you must suffer, but maybe further along I’ll have a better future if God allows me to keep doing what I’m doing,” he says in the video.
You can read more about Gaspar and others like him here.
The U.S. Customs and Border Protection agency has sparked outrage after Border Patrol agents were spotted waiting outside a patient’s room in the emergency unit of a Florida hospital before taking the patient into custody.
Video and images posted to social media on Sunday appeared to show at least one Border Patrol agent waiting outside a room at the Aventura Hospital and Medical Center in Aventura, Florida, with later footage appearing to show officers escorting the patient, a woman, into the back of a Border Patrol vehicle.
The ordeal started as the family was headed home after a day at the beach.
During a traffic stop, Border Patrol agents detained an undocumented woman who was on her way home from a family outing at Haulover Beach. It wasn’t long after the Border Patrol car pulled her over that she entered into a panic attack, vomiting and then eventually fainting. The officers took her to a Miami-area hospital, where she was treated by emergency-room doctors.
On the side of a road in Miami Beach, the federal agents had repeatedly told her, “We just need you to come with us.” Her kids, both teenagers, were crying, begging the agents not to take away their mother. But that appears like it’s exactly what happened. A family’s day at the beach ending with life long trauma for two teenagers who didn’t want to lose their mother and a woman fearful for her future.
Once she arrived to the emergency room, Border Patrol agents refused to leave the woman alone.
In fact, they wouldn’t leave her at all for nearly five hours. Officers waited either inside her actual room, affording her zero privacy, or they were waiting for her outside an open door. Agents refused to budge even as doctors and nurses came to ask her questions and give her medication.
When the woman was discharged shortly thereafter, a uniformed Border Patrol agent escorted her to a patrol vehicle and drove away. Immigrant-rights activists, who captured the incident on video, say the woman’s detention showed callous disregard for a person undergoing medical treatment.
Migrant rights activists were quick to condemn the agency’s actions and some even caught the drama on film.
Thomas Kennedy, who filmed a series of videos documenting the incident, told The Washington Post that the incident raises questions about the line – or lack thereof – between immigration enforcement and emergency medical care. He declined to name the woman out of concern for her safety.
“A hospital should be a place where a patient is protected from interrogation,” Kennedy, the political director at the Florida Immigrant Coalition, said in an interview. “You shouldn’t have a Border Patrol agent right there with you while you’re getting treatment.”
“It’s truly embarrassing as a country that this is a place where we are — that this is how business is being conducted, when we have a woman with children in the midst of a medical emergency being detained,” says Alexandra Audate, a lawyer and rapid-response volunteer with the Florida Immigrant Coalition (FLIC), who was present at the hospital.
Sadly, this is hardly the first time Border Patrol has harassed people in hospitals.
High-profile incidents in recent years have drawn attention to Border Patrol’s role in hospitals along the U.S.-Mexico border, where agents have allegedly handcuffed asylum seekers to their beds or rushed migrants to the emergency room after they’ve gotten sick in detention.
Less has been documented about Border Patrol’s place in hospitals elsewhere in the 100-mile “border zone,” where the agency can operate with a heightened kind of authority. That area, which encompasses a majority of the U.S. population, includes any point in the country that’s within 100 miles of a coastline, Canada or Mexico – including the entirety of states like Florida, Michigan and Massachusetts.
In the border zone, agents can stop, question, and detain anyone they suspect of having committed immigration violations – as they seem to have done on Sunday.
While much of the attention has been given to the Latinxs crossing the southern border, largely because they have been the targets of President Trump’s ire and the perception that only Latinxs would be entering via Latin countries, migrants from 50 countries have been detained.
According to Roll Call, Customs and Border Protection say they have seen a rise in migrants from India, China, Egypt, Bangladesh, Romania, and Turkey. Much like the countries Central Americans are fleeing, these nations are also grappling with catastrophic instabilities whether it be climate change in Bangladesh, civil unrest in China, or fascism creeping further into India.
Like all migrants, they want the same thing: a safe refuge from imminent threats to their humanity. However, their journeys to cross the southern border between Mexico and the United States is no easier.
Rise in Indian migrants.
Migration from India has dramatically increased along the southern border with attorneys claiming they see an increase in clients persecuted for political affiliation, religious beliefs, caste or social status. Although Indian migrants are a mere 1 percent of the total migrants in 2018, the numbers have vastly increased by 4,811 percent since 2007.
Roll Call’s analysis of CBP data saw an increase of Indian migrant apprehensions from 76 to 8,997 at the southern border. While Central American migrants face a unique set of obstacles, so do these groups. Immigration services are not equipped with language services, translated materials, or religious accommodations. While they can anticipate Spanish-speakers at the border, as migrants become more multicultural preparing for their arrivals can be all the more difficult.
In the case of these particular migrants, “targeted prejudice has eroded any semblance of due process, advocates say, and makes these migrants even more vulnerable to reprisals while in detention.”
These obstacles don’t just affect European and Asian migrants, but indigenous ones as well. Attorneys, judges, and advocates say the immigration court system has become overwhelmed with a backlog of over 1 million cases because there is a lack of non-Spanish and indigenous language interpreters.
Indian migrant goes on hunger strike due to mistreatment.
The inhumane conditions migrants are subjected to have led to a plethora of related issues. Ajay Kumar and other Indian migrants were detained in New Mexico and felt he was treated so poorly he went on a hunger strike. Kumar told authorities there were no translated reading materials and that vegetarian food was mixed with meat which many could not eat.
He was sent to an El Paso detention center where he and largely other migrants from India were force-fed following a court order. His lawyers say he was placed in medical isolation, called a troublemaker, and had his mala (or Hindu rosary) taken away from him. Kumar was held down and forced to eat and drink while his immigration case was threatened by officials. After 72 days of his hunger strike, he was moved to a long-term care facility. Still, Kumar believes his best chance at life is in the United States.
“USA is a very good country and there is no other country as helpful and strong as this,” Kumar wrote while in the hospital. “I only hope for my freedom and I hope for help from the people of El Paso.”
A 6-year-old migrant girl from India died at the southern border.
Just before her 7th birthday, Gurupreet Kaur crossed the southern border over the summer. Arizona temperatures reached 108 degrees. Gurupreet’s mother left her with another mother and daughter while she went to search for water. The two groups, who wandered a very remote area, were never able to find each other again. A day later, Border Patrol agents discovered Gurupreet’s remains.
“We wanted a safer and better life for our daughter and we made the extremely difficult decision to seek asylum here in the United States,” her parents’ said in a statement released by the nonprofit Sikh Coalition. “We trust that every parent, regardless of origin, color or creed, will understand that no mother or father ever puts their child in harm’s way unless they are desperate.”
The mother and daughter were trying to meet the girl’s father who had been in the U.S. since 2013 with a pending asylum application in New York immigration court. The pair were with three other migrants from India.
Advocacy groups say government policies are to blame for these tragedies which are affecting more and more communities of color.
Advocacy groups fight back.
Immigration advocacy groups continue to challenge these harmful policies in the courts. The Sikh community in the United States and other South Asian advocates have expressed much outrage. South Asian Americans Leading Together (SAALT) noted that while DHS and CBO budgets have increased significantly, the treatment of migrants has only degraded.
“As US Customs and Border Protection has escalated border enforcement and aggressively turned away migrants attempting to cross at ports of entry, deaths have continued to mount,” SAALT said in a statement. “Migrants are forced right back into the dangerous conditions that CBP and other federal agencies often blame on migrant traffickers and smugglers.”
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